At Two Risks
Human Rights are there to be observed. But in cases where they are not observed, they have two types of enemies responsible, those who violate them and those who abuse them. Human Rights therefore are at two risks, they can be violated and they can also be abused. The unfortunate thing is that most Human Rights activists and advocates forget or ignore this important fact. They get preoccupied with promoting the good of, usually minority groups of people, and forget the excesses those groups usually indulge in which often tantamount to Human Rights abuse.
The result of the above lack of balance is that, Yes, Human Rights activists and advocates often save minority groups from discrimination and other disadvantages, but then those negatives are converted into bigger, even dangerous negatives, against the majority. This renders the otherwise good work of the activists and advocates questionable.
Until late last century, cigarette smoking was considered to be a human right almost all over the world. No one questioned the freedom with which smokers indulged themselves. So they had the liberty to do their thing everywhere in public, including bars, restaurants, airports, and in public transport vehicles. It was after a great loss of lives to heart diseases, lung cancer and other smoking-related diseases that smoking was discovered to be a grave health hazard, not only for the smokers themselves, but equally for the secondary or second hand smokers, that is to say, the silent majority in the said places who inevitably inhale the puffs of smoke.
Having seen the statistics of the damage, many countries started serious legislation against smoking. On February 2005 http://www.grandprix.com/ft/ft14769.html made the following report:
On March 6, 2004, there was a related report by All Africa. Com.:
Cigarette manufacturing companies could face a flood of lawsuits over their products. This was after Parliament passed a motion seeking compensation for persons whose health had been affected by tobacco.2
And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The number of the 50 most populous U.S. cities with comprehensive smoke-free laws (including private workplaces, restaurants and bars) increased from one (San Jose, California) in 2000 to 30 as of October 5, 2012. Sixteen of the 50 largest cities were covered by a comprehensive local smoke-free law in 2012. An additional 14 of the 50 largest cities were covered by a comprehensive state smoke-free law in 2012.3
Smoking which in the past was considered a human right is today under universal legislative control for what its abuse was discovered to have caused, but after a lot of damage had been done.
The Freedom of Worship which some people grossly abuse can be cited here. Take for instance a group which plants a church in the middle of residences or working places (common in Third World, particularly in Africa), then that group takes the liberty to even use mega loud speakers day and night as they wish, under the cover of their rights (Freedom of Worship), in total disregard of the residents’ or workers’ rights to a quiet environment for rest, health, children’s development, private study, efficient performance, etc. In most such cases Human Rights advocates have not be heard because they are good at fighting violations but not abuses!
Today there is a similar issue: Human Rights activists and advocates including some Governments think that homosexuality is a serious Human Right that even deserves legalizing same sex marriages. Isn’t one justified to wonder if such controversial legislations are warranted? Isn’t one justified to fear that the possibly unknown but inevitable hazards will manifest and put the world into panic for difficult or impossible remedies?